Looking Ahead

By Doug Bartholomew  |  Posted 2007-08-24 Print this article Print

The insurance firm was outgrowing its data center, but wanted to wait before building another one. Server virtualization boosted the efficiency of its existing facility.

On the virtualization front, he's not done. Miggo's goal is to virtualize about 10% to 15% of the total server environment every year.

Another area where he's considering applying virtualization is on the desktop. "We are looking at proof of concept for virtualizing the desktops on our help desk," Miggo says.

But virtualization of a large number of desktop PCs may pose a special challenge, according to at least one analyst. "A successful implementation of virtualization on the server side, handled by the data center, is not a guarantee of success on the desktop side," says Theresa Lanowitz, analyst and founder of Voke, a research firm headquartered in Minden, Nev. She says management support, a capable implementation team and clear communication of the need for desktop virtualization are essential.

Nationwide's upgrade of the Columbus data center included upgrading the power backup systems. "Our power upgrade was already planned before the virtualization project," Miggo says. The power modernization included the purchase of new diesel generators.

Once again, long-term planning was essential, according to Miggo, since these large generators typically are spoken for well in advance, with some manufacturers working against 50 weeks of back orders. "You need almost a year to plan and put it in," he says.

All of Nationwide's commercial power feeds through its battery and uninterruptible power source system. If there is a power failure, the backup battery starts the generators in seconds. As Miggo explains: "It's tested every week, and we have backups to the backup generators."

Now that's planning ahead.

Next page: Nationwide at a Glance

Doug Bartholomew is a career journalist who has covered information technology for more than 15 years. A former senior editor at IndustryWeek and InformationWeek, his freelance features have appeared in New York magazine and the Los Angeles Times Magazine. He has a B.S. in Journalism from Northwestern University.

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